I was more excited to see Cats than Episode IX! I had the option to get my alcohol before witnessing Cats, but I decided I needed to experience it stone cold sober. I survived because I’m a Lynx. (Did I just get knighted?) Before my semi-SPOILERish critique, listen to this surpise collaboreview with The Wages of Cinema! I did not expect Jack & Korey to go for it when I pitched a screening. (I liked it more than them.) Andrew chickened out, but I did steal this headline from him. “Like Hamilton for Furries!” should be on the posters.
Musical theater fans have informed me that Cats is a rubbish musical. They’re not entirely wrong. The songs are mostly derived form whimsical T. S. Elliot poems, & Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber only flimsily linked this doggerel into a narrative. It seems like its primary audience should be children & easily amused cat lovers, however, so maybe the wrong standards have been applied? Although I’ve never actually seen a performance of Cats, Webber’s involvement gives the impression it’s a faithful adaptation. (I’ve also never read Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats. I did see Starlight Express in London. That was cool!)
Jesse Quick Taylor Swift co-wrote a new song , “Beautiful Ghosts,” with him, which has been Oscar-snubbed.
The main draw of Cats is the spectacle of humans prancing about in cat couture. The cinematic adaptation doesn’t disappoint on this front. After reading some pull quotes from other reviews, I was expecting something really bonkers. It was a bit of a letdown to discover the movie delivered exactly what I expected from the trailers. This was what I signed up for. Why did did everyone else’s minds explode?
The worst thing about this movie is Tom Hooper’s camera movements. The introductory scenes are extra disorienting because he doesn’t believe in tripods. The animators have an uphill battle synching up the CGI to performers’ bodies amidst the shakycam. Fortunately he cuts back on this as the musical sequences get more ambitious so there is less motion sickness by the time Skimbleshanks tap dances across the rails.
The characters are underwritten, but none of the august thespians phone in their performances. After being squandered in the MCU, Idris Elba has a ball as of yarn devilishly hamming it up as the Napoleon of Feline Crime, Macavity. He has teleportation magic! Dancer Francesca Hayward comports herself well as the naive & blandly named audience surrogate, Victoria. Dame Judy Dench & Sir Ian McKellen are as dignified as ever as Old Deuteronomy &
AsparaGus the Theatre Cat. Laurie Davidson is likeable as Mr. Mistoffelees the bumbling magician specializing in prestidigitation & telekinesis, but now I wish Hannah Hart had been cast.
Somehow James Corden got top billing over Dame Judy Dench despite not having more screentime or a more pivotal role. (I’m still upset he’s been on Doctor Who but Craig Ferguson hasn’t.) He bothers me less here as Bustopher Jones the posh cat in spats that dumpster dives.
As a klutzy housecat, I was worried Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots would just be fat jokes. She quickly reveals she’s been domesticating her residence’s rats & roaches to perform dance routines. The vermin are also weird human-animal hybrids. She periodically eats them in mid-song. Jennyanydots wears clothes under her fur coat (there are multiple layers of each). All of this is astounding! She has a chain fight much like Mackenzie Davis in Terminator: Dark Fate except in a movie I’ve seen.
Taylor Swift is a polarizing figure, but I’ve never understood the passion for either side as I’m lukewarm on most of her music. I was surprised she gives the most electrifying performance. It helps that “Macavity the Mystery Cat” is the best song. Her Bombalurina resembles Catwoman from that controversial BTAS episode. Wonder Woman 1984 better bring its A-game if Cheetah is to compete! (Counterpoint: Kristen Wiig > Taylor Swift; come at me Swifties!) As Macavity’s new moll, she descends upon a crescent swing & gets the Jellicles blissed out on catnip that glows like fireflies.
There are tuxedo cats, but where are the black cats? Bombalurina specifically sings Macavity is ginger, yet he’s given dark brown fur instead of orange? There are no Siamese. Most of the cats’ ears look too dainty despite not featuring Scottish folds. We do get calico Tunderkittens in Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer.
Despite the public befuddlement over the designs, I do admire that the movie committed to them. The lack of paws & kitty noses is offputting. The human proportions make the felines look too tiny for their environments. Rum Tum Tugger’s tallywhacker was digitally decreased. Cat anatomy including nipples & anuses would’ve probably still been censored (I adjusted my expectations accordingly) if they were animated less anthropomorphic akin to Legend of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole (arguably Zack Snyder’s best film). The gratuitous The Lion King remake has soured me on the notion the photorealism is inherently better. It’d be nifty if they looked like Edward Gorey illustrations though. Would it have been better if the cast just wore costumes & make-up like the stage show? Probably, although I imagine normcore audiences would’ve still been nonplussed by the everyone looking like naked Thundercats.
As someone who’d seen the Broadway advertisement repeatedly, I was disappointed by the lack of flying tire. It made me think the musical was about cats from outer space! They could’ve gone full Highlander 2! (It’s not a good movie, even if you see the Renegade cut that deletes every mention of Zeist, the planet not the Dutch town.) Imagining this stars aliens goes a long way toward smoothing out the interspecies discrepancies. (We briefly see one human at the start, which doesn’t put the scale into context.) Jellicle prize winner Grizabella ascends to her reincarnation in the Heaviside Layer via a hot air balloon chandelier, but this would’ve been the ideal spot to include a UFO tire.
I’m an easy mark for kitties with goofy names, but it felt like this could’ve done more. Since the plot is so thin & most of the songs are character introductions, it feels like a pilot to a series. Why has there been no official Cats extended universe in all this time?
So for better or worse, Cats seems like a good adaptation. On that grounds, it’s a success. I can’t fault the movie for being exactly what it set out to be. Whether you like the underlying musical is a different kettle of fish.
This review is merely an excuse to put some cat rambling into a article that someone might actually read.
I considered getting wallet photos of my cat to show to strangers. Then I realized I don’t like showing my wallet to strangers.
The cat keep escorting me to another room to make me watch her play with catnip toys. Can someone explain to her that she’s allowed to play unsupervised or carry her toys into the same room as me?
My irritated kitty called me “orang,” which I believe is short for orangutan.
My cat’s nose doesn’t match her tongue. Just imagine if there were black-tongued kitties though!
Scene from the sacred scrolls foretelling of a Lynx-Nekomatta exacting vengeance upon the AMC suit that cancelled Lodge 49.
After catching as many mice as she has toes, my mouser retired.
Once you do a favor for a cat, you’re obligated to perform all favors for it.
Cat sits on legs whilst I’m reading. “I can finish this chapter before the ensnugglement wave hits.” Nope! Is she a cuddlestrosity or snugglestrosity?
Does my cat think of me as her tall idiot kitten who’s older than her via time travel shenanigans?
Does the magic each cat wields correspond to their fur color?
My kitty made the effort of dragging the catnip bomb she’s meh about up to the middle of the stairs in an attempt to assassinate her primary feeder.
My cat is a more effective foot warmer than a coal bed warmer. She’s a kibble-burning engine.
Duo the diprosopus kitten reminds me of Transmetropolitan.
My kitty-mistress is quite magnanimous in allowing me to use the loo before serving her brekky.
My cat is always hungry because of Time And Relative Dimensions In Stomach.
Felines are delicate machines that require periodic recalibration.
I gave my kitty her first water fountain today. After airlifting her to it, she tentatively sniffed it but ultimately decided art installations were not to be desecrated.
The cat deploys shadow decoys to confuse me.
I got a napkin underneath my cat before she puked on the carpet. Now I feel like a big damn hero.
Why don’t cats come with subtitles so we can understand their commands?
Little Bean & Sprout the handi-cats star in The Spy Who Blepped Me!
Before I could even ask if she wanted a belly rub, upside-down kitty flashed me a warning fang out of the corner of her mouth.
Cat puked in my bed because she’s obviously related to me.
My cat wouldn’t jump on my lap until I sang The Banana Splits’ theme song, but she’s never seen it? Is she a secret couch purr-tato?
Humanity did not read the complete user agreement before accepting cats.
When it come to treat schedules, my cat is like Darth Vader. She’d look more impressive if she wore a cape whilst jumping.
I need this Kitten Arsenal.
I still think about that poet, Patricia Lockwood, who was sentenced to one thousand years of jail by her cat. That’s rough. How is she going to survive the sentence? I guess don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time though.
me to cat “Happy Black Cat Day!”
cat to me “That’s EVERY day, hoser!”
If neko learn to entertain each other they’ll have no more use for us!
“I’m going to accomplish stuff tonight!”
“Nice feet. Would be a shame if someone were to nap on them.”
Coming up soon: My collaboreview of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker. Let’s just say I recommend Cats more. What do I know? I’m merely a host for Toxoplasmosis.